Bone Marrow Transplants Rid Two Men of HIV
July 3, 2013 1:04 PM
comment(s) - last by
But they're not calling it a cure quite yet
HIV patients have new
hope for a cure
as two men recently became HIV-free with bone marrow transplants.
Doctors at the
Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Centre
in Boston performed bone marrow transplants on two men with HIV, and neither have had to use Aids drugs for extended periods of time since the operations.
One of the men has had HIV since he was a baby while the other became infected years ago. Both men received bone marrow transplants in Boston, where their cells were replaced by those of the donors.
Doctors have been checking the men regularly for signs of HIV
in both blood cells
and tissue, and the virus has fallen to an undetectable level in both men.
What's more is that one
stopped taking antiretroviral medication
four months ago while the other quit seven weeks ago. Still no sign of the virus.
However, Timothy Henrich -- from the division of infectious diseases at Brigham -- said not to celebrate a cure quite yet. While the virus isn't detectable in blood or tissue, it could be hiding in other places like organs and reappear later.
Even if the virus doesn't reappear, bone marrow transplants are not something to be taken lightly. There is a 15-20 percent mortality rate and patients must take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives (which prevent the immune system from performing normal duties, such as fighting off infections).
"While these results are exciting, they do not yet indicate that the men have been cured," said Henrich. "Long-term follow up of at least one year will be required to understand the full impact of a bone marow transplant on HIV persistence."
Nevertheless, this is a great finding that could lead to a better understanding of the virus, better treatments and eventually (hopefully) a cure.
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RE: Come a long way
7/3/2013 2:54:47 PM
Well, bone marrow the old fasioned way is "stem cells" too, but yes, the new procedures are a lot less painful than the old. Basically, they give the donor a drug (filgrastim) that causes their bone marrow cells to divide like crazy which in turn causes them to leach out of the bones and into the blood stream. Then they can take blood out, spin it in a centrifuge, and separate out the stem cells from the rest. The drug has some side effects, including bone pain, but much less so than drilling into your hip under general anesthesia.
By the sound of it, your mother maybe had the transplant procedure where killing the recipient's bone marrow off isn't necessary? That would explain why she had an easier (in purely relative terms of course) time with it than you might expect. The procedure of killing off the recipient's bone marrow is really quite hair raising... basically giving them a just barely fatal dose of chemo and/or radiation, then waiting for the marrow to die off, then waiting for the new marrow to establish itself (and in the meantime having no white blood cells, no red cell production, no platelet production, etc).
RE: Come a long way
7/4/2013 7:10:12 AM
No she had chemo to kill hers off. But I guess she handled it pretty well.
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